I don’t think they have more laws to deal with than any other group in the economy, but market agents certainly seem to have to abide by a plethora of rules and regulations. I’ve often heard it said that if market agents were to comply with the letter of every law which impacts on their business, they’d have little or no time left over for doing business. This doesn’t mean that they would deliberately break any laws, but rather that they need to find a balance between compliance and running a business.
If the government, provincial and municipal authorities had to employ enough people to enforce all the laws that exist, we’d certainly solve the unemployment problem, but probably go broke as a country in the process. We have the Agricultural Products Standards Act (119 of 1990) which lays down the grading standards for agricultural products. Fruit and veg alone are a nightmare of sizes, dimensions, external blemishes, internal damage, packaging, packing, marking of containers and a whole lot more.
The department of agriculture would love to fully inspect all products, but a lack of funds hampers this well-intentioned ideal.
Today, Prokon inspects potatoes on the markets along with a small number of selected products on behalf of the department. You can request and pay for specific inspections if you feel so inclined.
Also to be found on a market are the municipal market by-laws, which have a direct impact on trading and a host of other activities on a market. These are a market manager’s main legal support mechanism in running a market. Other acts that come to mind include the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Trade Metrology Act, National Credit Act and Consumer Act to name only a few.
We all need to abide by them, but they can drive us crazy!
Contact Mike Cordes at [email protected]. Please state ‘Market floor’ in the subject line of your email.